One day before a celebration is held in Griffith Park to celebrate the life of Southland mountain lion P-22, a trio of local congressional representatives called Friday for the creation of a postage stamp honoring the animal known as the “Hollywood Cat.”
“P-22 was many things: our favorite celebrity neighbor, the occasional troublemaker, and a beloved mascot for our city,” Reps. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, Julia Brownley, D-Los Angeles, and Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, wrote in a letter to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee.
“His exploits were followed not just by ordinary community members, but he had a devoted following online, and his comings and goings were even tracked by the local news. But most of all, he was a magnificent and wild creature, who reminded us all that we are part of a natural world so much greater than ourselves. Even in Los Angeles,” the representatives wrote in the letter.
They’re calling for a stamp depicting P-22 in front of the Hollywood sign — a nod to that landmark’s 100th anniversary.
P-22 was euthanized Dec. 17 after being examined by wildlife officials who captured the cat following recent signs of distress, including a series of attacks on pet dogs in the area.
The lion, one of many Southland-area cats being tracked by National Park Service researchers, gained fame locally for his persistence and durability, successfully managing to cross both the San Diego (405) and Hollywood (101) freeways to reach his recent roaming grounds in the Griffith Park area.
A celebration of life for P-22 will be held at noon Saturday at the Greek Theatre. Schiff is among those scheduled to speak at the sold-out event, which will be livestreamed for those who were unable to obtain free tickets.
Known as the “Hollywood Cat,” P-22 became the face of the National Park Service’s program to track local lions in the Santa Monica Mountains. His exploits were documented in various media accounts, including his daring freeway crossings, hiding out under a Los Feliz home in a standoff that drew widespread attention and even being named a suspect in the killing of a koala at the Los Angeles Zoo.
He was believed to be about 11 or 12 years old, making him the oldest cat in the NPS’ study of Southland lions. He is believed to have been born in the Santa Monica Mountains, somehow finding his way to his tiny, nine-square-mile home in Griffith Park, separated from his birth area by two of the busiest freeways in the world.
Defying expectations, he persisted for more than 10 years in the smallest home range that has ever been recorded for an adult male mountain lion.
He was initially captured and outfitted with a tracking collar in 2012. At the time of his last capture, he weighed 123 pounds.
After he was captured last month, wildlife experts said P-22 had facial injuries consistent with being struck by a vehicle.
Experts ultimately made the decision to humanely euthanize the animal at San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where he was being treated, to spare him further suffering.
“P-22’s advanced age, combined with chronic, debilitating, life-shortening conditions and the clear need for extensive long-term veterinary intervention left P-22 with no hope for a positive outcome,” according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The cat’s remains have since been taken to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, but exactly what will be done with them remains unknown.
Local tribal leaders — who consider cougars to be sacred — have objected to the suggestion that the lion be placed on display at the museum, arguing instead that he be buried in Griffith Park.
“Decisions regarding next steps will continue to be made together with local tribes, with more information provided as it becomes available,” museum officials said in a statement in December.